Patrick Springer first joined the reporting staff of The Forum in 1985. He can be reached by calling 701-241-5522. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org
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FARGO — A recently adopted higher threshold for reporting spills in North Dakota's Oil Patch, if applied to a recent five-year period, would mean 80 percent of oil spills and 68 percent of toxic saltwater spills would have gone unreported, an analysis by The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead shows.
FARGO—The state of North Dakota finds itself back in court defending a law intended to protect consumers from astronomical air ambulance bills by carriers who are not participating providers in insurance networks. Guardian Flight, which formerly operated in North Dakota as Valley Med Flight, is suing to block a new law that sets reimbursement caps on out-of-network air ambulance services—a practice that stuck consumers with bills that averaged $60,000, according to state figures.
FARGO — Soaring patient demand has set new records since the new Sanford Medical Center opened last year, prompting the addition soon of 16 more hospital beds earlier than expected and driving the need to increase the number of physicians in the region from 588 to 800 by 2025. Since the new medical center opened last July, patient volumes have set records, including a peak hospital census of 495 inpatients at its three Fargo campuses on Feb. 15. The average daily census last year was 400.
FARGO — North Dakota insurance regulators will examine whether the state's largest private health insurer is properly handling behavioral health and substance abuse claims. Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread said the North Dakota Insurance Department will carry out a market conduct examination of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota's coverage practices involving mental health and substance abuse claims over a recent five-year period.
MAYVILLE, N.D.—Rep. Marvin Nelson, D-Rolla, said a partnership between Bismarck State College and an institute in Saudi Arabia that exclusively teaches male students would discriminate against women and asked whether it reflects the state university system's values. "The agreement must discriminate against women," Nelson told members of the State Board of Higher Education at their meeting Wednesday, March 28, at Mayville State University. "No woman can be hired."
MAYVILLE, N.D.—North Dakota State University has the OK to build an addition to Sudro Hall with a price tag up to $28 million to allow for much-needed expansion of its nursing program. The State Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday, March 28, to grant NDSU permission to go ahead with the project, which will be entirely paid for by private donations. So far, $22 million has been raised, but the building can be trimmed if fundraising falls short of the goal.
FARGO—Cass County once again served as North Dakota's people magnet, gaining 3,162 residents in the latest yearly population estimates. The Census Bureau estimates, reflecting population changes from July 1, 2016, to July 1, 2017, show that Cass County posted a net migration gain of 1,633, comprised of 847 domestic migrants and 786 international migrants. Natural population increase—births over deaths—accounted for a gain of another 1,529 residents in Cass County, to round out the estimated population gain for the year.
FARGO — Board members have voted unanimously to accept all recommendations from a task force for a project to divert some flood waters around Fargo-Moorhead and will submit a new permit application to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The expected vote by the Diversion Authority, which came Friday, March 16, followed months of talks by task force members, appointed by the governors of Minnesota and North Dakota, aimed at coming up with an acceptable plan that would obtain a permit from the Minnesota DNR.
FARGO — North Dakota Treasurer Kelly Schmidt has come out against a legislative proposal to tap the Legacy Fund to create a revolving loan fund to finance public works projects. The voter-approved Legacy Fund, which receives 30 percent of state petroleum revenues, has received deposits exceeding $4.25 billion since it began accumulating in 2011. Including investment earnings, the fund has a balance of more than $5.42 billion.
WEST FARGO—Sara Schmidt teaches special education classes at South Elementary School. She's attuned to signs that a pupil could be frustrated—crumpling an assignment sheet, for instance—and she tries to intervene before agitation can flare into something more serious. "The goal is to be proactive, to not be reactive," when a student's behavior turns potentially disruptive, she said. "These situations do happen." To defuse the student's anger, she might say: "I can see you're frustrated. Do you want to take a break?"